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  • Smokestack Lightning: Complete Chess Masters
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Smokestack Lightning: Complete Chess Masters Box set


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Audio CD, Box set, October 24, 2011
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$157.44 $99.12

Amazon's Howlin' Wolf Store

Music

Image of album by Howlin' Wolf

Photos

Image of Howlin' Wolf

Biography

The blues has been a wellspring for rivers of pop, rock and R&B and there's nothing quite like returning to the source. In the mid-'60s, Chess Records released a series of legendary "best of" albums for Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf. Under each artist's name, The Real Folk Blues was issued in 1966 and a More Real Folk Blues ... Read more in Amazon's Howlin' Wolf Store

Visit Amazon's Howlin' Wolf Store
for 101 albums, 5 photos, discussions, and more.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 24, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Hip-O Select
  • ASIN: B005JLN9V2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,482 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Moanin' At Midnight
2. How Many More Years (alternate)*
3. How Many More Years
4. The Wolf Is At Your Door (Howlin' For My Baby)
5. California Boogie*
See all 26 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. I'm Not Joking
2. Mama Died And Left Me
3. All Night Boogie (All Night Long)
4. I Love My Baby
5. Highway My Friend
See all 27 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Break Of Day
2. The Natchez Burning
3. Going Back Home*
4. Bluebird
5. My Life
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. I'm Leaving You (alternate take)*
2. I'm Leaving You (takes 7-10)*
3. I'm Leaving You
4. Can't Put Me Out (alternate)*
5. Can't Put Me Out (alternate)
See all 20 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

One of the great blues songbooks is to be found right here-as well as many of the most potent, Earth-shaking performances in blues or any other music. Willie Dixon penned many of these 97 tracks, and Chester Burnett (a.k.a. Howlin' Wolf) played, sang and screamed them into the history books and the record collections of countless future bluesmen and rockers. A 45-page booklet full of rare photos and probing profiles of Wolf's years in Memphis and Chicago joins his hits How Many More Years; Moanin' at Midnight; Who Will Be Next; Smoke Stack Lightning , and I Asked for Water plus The Wolf Is At Your Door; Dorothy Mae; Saddle My Pony; My Last Affair; All Night Boogie (All Night Long); California Blues Nos. 1 & 2; Crazy About You Baby; You Gonna Wreck My Life; Evil; So Glad; I've Been Abused; Mr. Airplane Man; Break of Day; My Life; Back Door Man; Nature; Poor Boy , and more including a whole lotta alternate takes!

Customer Reviews

Get it while you can!
Amazon Customer
That being said, you can currently get into his music in any number of ways that can be had for a lot less coin than this one.
rockabilly blues
It is an amazing compilation of some of Howlin' Wolf's best.
largie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Standard Poodle on October 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would doubt anyone reading this would need an introduction to Wolf and his life. Since that info is available in many places, I will skip to the review of this package.

If you want everything, you will need both Bear Family sets and the one on Ace. I am certain someone will give this one star for that, but that is not the claim here at all; it is "Chess Masters".

Sound quality is great. However, the Japanese reissues are the very best. We're splitting hairs here, and the Japanese ones are very expensive, so I heartily recommend this one. You are not really losing anything . . .

There are alternate takes and studio chatter here, including: "Hubert, turn your amp down!". The alternate takes are great and a real treat - I only wish there were more.

These are the really raw Wolf sides: beginning with the Memphis recordings; hitting the early, rawest Chicago recordings; and ending with, as the compiler states: "Hubert Sumlin coming into his own." On the bulk of these sides, you get wildly distorted guitar, intense harmonica, crazy piano and crazy drums. I recall Greil Marcus writing something like: "Wolf's best records come on like a three minute race-riot" and these sides bear that out. I believe Robert Palmer wrote that "Wolf's band always sounds like it is about to rupture" - again, an accurate description. It is that very tension that makes these sides so compelling.

Have you noticed that when you hear a cover of Wang Dang Doodle, the band always does the Koko Taylor version? Know why? Wolf's can't be played by earthlings! Most Wolf songs defy "copy-catting".

It's not just his voice, which is inimitable (but that does not stop folks from trying). Try "I'll be Around" and see if you can find someone to do THAT.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 22, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This rather lovely 'book-shaped' set is the first in a series of CD retrospectives documenting Chester Arthur Burnette (his real name) and his stay at the legendary Blues label 'Chess'. There's an awful lot of Howlin' Wolf to document here, so let's get to the details...

Released Monday 21 November 2011 in the UK (September 2011 in the USA) on Hip-O Select/Geffen/Universal B0015309-2 - "Smokestack Lightning - The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960" is a 97-Track 4CD Book Set and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, 26 Tracks, 1951 to 1953 (73:08 minutes):
Tracks 2, 5, 6, 17, Previously Unreleased In The USA
Tracks 8, 9, 13, 14, 18 and 21 first released on the 1994 US 2CD compilation "Ain't Gonna Be Your Dog" on Chess CD2-9349
Tracks 15 and 20 first released on the 1991 US 3CD Box Set "Howlin' Wolf - The Chess Box" on Chess CD3-9332
Tracks 24 to 26 are 1953 Mono recordings 1st released on the 1966 USA LP "More Real Folk Blues" on Chess LP 1512
I've provided all other track info in the 'comment' section attached to this review as well as a 78".
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Smith on March 18, 2012
Format: Audio CD
While this is an esssential set of Wolf's early recordings,The Bihari Brothers based in Los Angeles,had their Modern-RPM labels and also got songs from Sam Phillips just as the Chess Brothers did in Chicago and they were both very interested in Howlin Wolf.Of course Chess did sign him and and had so many classic songs recorded in Chicago,if Wolf had gone with Modern..music history might be very different.
Yes these are complete for the Chess label,but Wolf's recordings sold to Modern-RPM aren't on this release.Sam Phillips sold songs to both Chess and Modern-RPM in the early 50's before Wolf was signed to Chess and left Memphis for Chicago.
"Howling Wolf Sings The Blues" on the Ace label is just as essential,raw and rockin stuff from 1951-1952,it was released in 2004 and great sound."House Rockin Boogie" and "Keep What You Got" alone are worth the price of the CD..a perfect companion to this set..check it out!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ira Knopf on December 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
About time a definitive box set of Howlin's work has come out. Hope we don't have to wait too long for the next set since this covers only the years from 1951 to 1960. If you are a blues lover and dig the the Wolf, this a must for anyone's collection. The hits and some not so big hits are all here. Not going to go into all the songs collected here if you know Howlin's music you''ll know most of the songs in this box set, if not here is the excuse to go out and buy it, and start listening. Enjoy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 5, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
We finally get a complete collection of the earlier Chess recordings of The Wolf. No need to go into the musical details, as previous reviews have done that. It is worth noting that the packaging is much better than the most recent Muddy Waters set from a year or two ago. Could the booklet be longer? Of course. But what is here is very cool. And the music sounds better than ever. The Chess Box might the better career overview, but this compilation is as good as it gets. Let's pray that the next volume (1960+) comes out sometime soon. Get it while you can!
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